Title: The One Singularity
Author: RD Palmer
Genre: Science Fiction
The first in a trilogy that explores the socio-political consequences of technological advances in facial recognition, the internet of things, and allowing so much data to be collected via online applications, The One Singularity examines what it means to be human and what a general artificial intelligence, or The One, could look like in the not-so-distant future.
What starts as the solution to humanity’s problems in the form of an advanced version of artificial intelligence becomes an unexpected nemesis, promising to solve difficulties in ways that its creators never anticipated. Along the way, lives are ruined or lost and difficult choices have to be made, as no group can avoid the consequences of unleashing The One on the world.
The broad range of characters allows the author to explore how The One affects the world at-large, from the military to politics, from the Amish trying to protect their way of life to the optimists who see technology as a savior. However, this can also make it harder to follow the plot at times, as readers are presented with storylines that don’t seem to converge in this book, where the only shared components are having to face what The One is doing on a variety of fronts.
The pacing shares this challenge, following certain threads with greater interest than others, especially if they follow the philosophical implications or explore the societal, scientific, or political difficulties, to where some tense situations are left alone while other, more pressing developments are followed.
The narration is nicely balanced, offering what feels like equal time between the Amish and the science-oriented main characters, though some of the minor characters’ stories do feel lost along the way. Technology is seen as capable of great good and alarming evil, and the characters are equally flawed, though some more so than others.
The writing can be fairly technical at times, though the author does an excellent job of explaining things along the way. While effectively structured to show the way The One tightens its grasp on the world, the overall feel is contemplative, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the Amish way of life, how religious fervor in other communities can be used to mask an acceptance of technology, and whether IQ limits people’s income in ways that discriminate against them. Some of the characters’ actions don’t seem to be as focused on truly interacting with those around them as much as furthering the story, to where their actions can feel useful rather than strongly motivated in who they are and how they feel about things.
The characters offer an array of lenses through which to view this increasingly-dystopian world, and the author’s dedication to showing the pitfalls that could come from trusting too much in technology is brilliantly executed through the chilling realism of the decisions people make and how The One increases its grasp on the world. Perfect for readers who like realistic science fiction stories, deeply rooted in the situations of today will enjoy this book. Thanks to the range of worries created by The One, there is something for everyone to be concerned about in this thoughtful page turner.
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